It took Woody Hunt some 23 seasons as head coach of the Cumberland Bulldogs before he won his first NAIA National Championship.
In the space of the next 10 years, he’s tacked on two more -- including an improbable tournament run in the recently completed 2014 season -- a season that found CU going 49-20 and earning a No. 1 postseason ranking.
While many in the profession would be contemplating their next chapter, don’t expect the Hall of Fame coach to be calling it a career anytime soon.
“I’m just going to keep going on and see what happens,” Hunt said last week. “I know I’m getting toward the end of my career, but I don’t know how many years that will be.
“I really don’t know and I’m not going to predict. I have thought about that a little bit, but I’m really excited about next year already.
“It will be a tremendous challenge to build another team. We lose 15 players off the World Series squad, return only one starting player (outfielder Justin Byrd) so I know I’ve got my work cut out for me.
“It’s this kind of challenge that keeps me going.”
Hunt said recruiting is the lifeblood of his program -- a process that never stops.
“It’s a continuing search for ballplayers,” Hunt said. “Sometimes my best players happen by accident. I may get a call late in the summer about a guy needing a place to play.
“Then there was a kid like Chris Hall from Friendship Christian who came in here and redshirted, then we couldn’t get him out of the lineup for two straight years. He wound up being an NAIA All-American here, and 10 years ago he was one of our summer campers.”
Hunt’s 33rd edition of the Bulldogs overcame a 13-10 month of March to close out the season on a 26-6 run to capture the Avista-NAIA World Series, despite being the bottom seed in a 10-team field.
Hunt is one of only six coaches in history to register 1,000 career victories in the NAIA and heads into the 2015 season with a 1,411-585-3 overall record -- a winning percentage of .706.
The Bulldogs have appeared in 12 NAIA World Series, including six in the last 10 seasons, claiming national championships in 2004, 2010 and 2014 as well as runner-up finishes in 1995 and 2006.